So, a quick update this week. Having had two short stories published at the beginning of autumn and then completing NaNoWriMo 2019 and meeting my 50k goal (just), the feeling of triumph accompanying both those achievements soon dissipated upon exiting the challenge. Skillshare have closed over half of my online classes with no forewarning nor proper explanation.
There are hundreds of teachers on the platform experiencing the same problem, and no one knows what is going on. Rumour is rife - either they are running out of money to pay out on all the classes in accordance to their membership numbers or they've decided on a new business model that cuts out masses of effort made by the very teachers who built their platform.
Whatever the reason for the purge, it is unfortunate that Skillshare did not opt to forewarn their teachers so that we could prepare and work with them to update our classes to fit in with their new plans.
As a working mum of two young children, three weeks before Christmas couldn't be a worse time for this to happen. All of us affected teachers are running around like chickens who have lost the corn bucket. For the time being, I have to prioritise the work I already have over sorting out my classes.
However, onward and upwards. The opportunity Skillshare offered me when I first discovered them has been invaluable from a learning perspective and I am determined to find an alternative way to bring my classes back online. This means re-evaluating my whole online teaching strategy and will take some time. During 2020, my goal will be to have found a suitable alternative that will enable me to have more control on the overall learning experience of my students and how my community operates. I have so many classes in mind, but of course it's not possible to make them all at once.
There is a lesson to be learned here which I think applies to all of us writers, generally: set backs - plot conundrums, rejections, life problems - will always occur, but it is in our determination to find ways to move forward, find a method or a market that works for us, find a spark that will resolve why character X suddenly decided to jump off a mountain randomly in the middle of chapter six, that we will find success.
Tenacity is the writer's way.
As for NaNo, I'd been gradually outlining a book idea on and off for a while and decided last minute to chuck my hat in the ring. I didn't get to do half the prep I have in previous years. It was a struggle. Not least because this is the first time I have ever attempted to write a novel length story based on magic. I've never had to design a magic system before and it's been a real challenge. But that's good - as writer's we should always try to reach out from our comfort zones. It's what we expect from our characters, after all. For that is what stories are about - people in difficult circumstances pushing themselves to attain more than they ever have before.
And aside from anything else, I'd forgotten the fun of starting something new and just making stuff up!
A full draft is not finished and suffice to say shall not be for a while until I sort out my classes. And new classes shan't be published for a while until I have found a home and a way forward with my existing ones.
In my research into finding a solution to this problem, I've discovered depths to my host site that I hadn't known about before that might help me deliver the content and community I envisage. But I'd like to hear from you - would you like to see a community forum on this website where you can chat with other writers and students and maybe even put your work up for critique by the community in a private area? If so, get in touch. Your input might well shape the future design of this site.
Watch this space...
Next week, as my last post before Christmas, I'll be picking apart one of fiction's most enduring characters, Ebeneezer Scrooge, and how his characterisation shapes his whole story.